LIHI Certificate #47 - Ware River Project, Massachusetts

The Ware River Project consists of two dams and a total of 5 turbines within 1/2 mile of each other on the Ware River in Ware, Massachusetts. In 1995, Lucas, David, and Sarah Wright of Ware River Power, Inc. (WRP) purchased Pioneer Hydro out of bankruptcy. Since that time, the Wrights and WRP have devoted a vast amount of hard work, time, energy and capital to make Pioneer low impact on its surroundings. Ware River Power's approach is one of restoration and conservation of existing structures and equipment rather than replacement. Numerous examples of the dedicated work towards minimal impact of the facility are documented in the Comments Attachment of the original LIHI application for certification which was approved in 2010.

The facility consists of Ware Upper Dam which falls 34 feet, and Ware Lower Dam which falls 16 feet. Two powerhouses at the Upper Dam contain turbines 1, 2, 4, and 5. The Lower Dam powerhouse contains turbine 3 and 6, a minimum flow unit installed in 2020. Turbines 4 and 5 on the upper dam and turbine 3 on the lower dam are controlled automatically with direct pond leveling controls.

Since the initial LIHI certification and as a result of an agreement with Massachusetts Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, minimum stream flow at the facility has been voluntarily increased over and above the FERC required 20cfs to 26.8cfs. This represents a 34% increase. The increased minimum stream flow was achieved through significant alterations to the upper dam and flashboard structure in October of 2010 which increased the bypass weir width from 11.4 feet to 15.3 feet.  Minimum stream flow is constantly and closely monitored by pond leveling sensors that control turbine actuation. In case of low pond level, an automatic dialer notifies operators via cell and pager communications of a low pond level scenario. If response is not delivered manually, the site trips offline before a violation of minimum stream flow occurs. The lower dam has no minimum stream flow, as its discharge is directly at the foot of the dam and it has no reach area. The lower dam is "run of river" at all times and has shutdown protection if water gets below dam crest.

Project Name Ware River
LIHI Certificate No. 47
LIHI Certificate Term August 24, 2019 – August 23, 2024
Owner Ware River Power, Inc.
State Massachusetts
Location Located between river mile 11.5 and 12 on the Ware River in Massachusetts.
Installed Capacity 1.87 MW
Average Annual Generation 5,000 MWh
Facility Type Run-of-river
FERC No. P-3127 exempt 1982

Certification History

June 1, 2020: The decision to recertify the Ware River Project became final after the close of the appeals period on May 31, 2020 with no appeals filed. The Certification term is from August 24, 2019 – August 23, 2024.

May 1, 2020:  The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) has preliminarily approved the Ware River Project (LIHI #47) for a new 5-year term of Low Impact Certification. The Certificate includes the following conditions:

  • Condition 1: The facility Owner shall, within 6 months of recertification, consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine if the instantaneous run-of-river monitoring and maintenance plan recommended by the Service per Section 30(C) of the Federal Power Act, and required by the FERC August 2017 Order Amending Exemption, is still necessary.  The results of consultation shall be provided to LIHI in annual compliance submittals until the issue is closed. If the plan is not required, the Owner should file the agency concurrence with FERC within 3 months of that determination.  If the plan is still required, the Owner shall develop a draft plan for agency review and provide a copy of the final plan including any agency comments on the draft to LIHI within 60 days of plan completion.
  • Condition 2: The three-year post turbine upgrade water quality monitoring is scheduled to be performed beginning in 2020.  The results of the monitoring studies along with any resource agency comments and any proposed mitigation that may be needed shall be provided to LIHI within 60 days of each annual study report’s issuance.   LIHI reserves the right to reassess or revoke certification based on the information provided.
  • Condition 3: Should drawdown events occur at the facility during the term of LIHI Certification for maintenance or emergency reasons, the facility Owner shall consult with MDFW and develop the required state-listed mussel species protection plan to protect state-listed mussels and their habitat.  The Owner shall file copies of the plan and all agency consultation to LIHI within 60 days of MDFW approving the plan.

This decision is preliminary pending the 30-day appeal window. Only those who commented on the initial application during the 60-day comment period are eligible to file an appeal. Such appeal needs to include an explanation as to how the Project does not meet the LIHI criteria. Appeal requests can be submitted by email to with "Ware River Project” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 329 Massachusetts Ave, Suite 6, Lexington, MA 02420. All requests will be posted to the website. The applicant will have an opportunity to respond and any response will also be posted. Requests must be received by 5 pm Eastern time on May 31, 2020. The full application and reviewer's report are available below.

If no appeal requests are received and the decision becomes final, the Certification term for the Project will be August 24, 2019 through August 23, 2024.

February 25, 2020: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) has received a complete recertification application from Ware River Power, Inc. for the Ware River Project located on the Ware River in Ware, Massachusetts. The complete application can be found below.

LIHI is seeking comment on this application. Comments that are directly tied to specific LIHI criteria (flows, water quality, fish passage, etc.) will be most helpful, but all comments will be considered. Comments may be submitted to the Institute by e-mail at with "Ware River Project Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 329 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 6, Lexington, MA 02420. Comments must be received at the Institute on or before 5 pm Eastern time on April 25, 2020 to be considered. All comments will be posted to the web site and the applicant will have an opportunity to respond. Any response will also be posted.

December 14, 2015: LIHI Executive Director Michael J. Sale, using authority delegated from the LIHI Governing Board, has certified that the Ware River Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. P-3127) continues to satisfy the LIHI Certification Criteria. A Preliminary Decision was announced on October 23, 2015, and a 30-day appeal period was open through November 23, 2015. No requests for appeal were received. This Certification Decision includes one facility-specific conditions, as follows:

  • The proposed modifications to the Lower Dam may be completed during the term of the new LIHI certification. Should this occur during the five-certification period as currently planned, the facility owner shall provide LIHI a copy of any License Exemption Amendment, along with resource agency comments and a schedule of the project’s planned initiation and completion dates, within 30 days of receipt of the Amendment. The results of any sampling or monitoring studies required by the Amendment or resource agencies shall be provided to LIHI within 60 days of results documentation. At that time, LIHI will review the new certification and make changes if appropriate.

The effective certification date for the Ware River Project is August 24, 2014 for a five (5) year term, which will expire on August 24, 2019.

January 1, 2015:   Executive Director Michael J. Sale issues a letter extending the Ware River Project certificate to March 31, 2015.

June 18, 2014: LIHI has received an application for a second term of certification of the Ware River Hydroelectric Project. The application materials can be found in the “Files” section below.

March 4, 2010: The Ware River Hydroelectric Project has been certified as low impact for a five year term, effective August 24, 2009 and expiring August 24, 2014.

January 5, 2010: After much discussion between Ware River Hydro, Inc. and the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game concerning a possible resolution based on increasing minimum stream flow, the details of this potential agreement can be read below, in a letter from Lucas Wright to LIHI, dated December 10, 2009.

August 24, 2009: Ware River Hydro, Inc. has submitted an application for certification of the Pioneer Hydroelectric Company Project located on the Ware River in Ware, Massachusetts. A public comment period will remain open for 60 days, until October 24, 2009.